Chiang Mai snake farms raided

CHIANG MAI - Officials from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) raided three animal farms in Mae Rim district on Wednesday and confiscated protected snakes, monkeys and birds.

A team led by deputy DNP chief Theeraphat Prayurasith raided the Chiang Mai Cobra Farm, Mae Sa Snake Farm and Mae Rim Snake Farm after receiving reports that they were in possession of several protected snakes and other wildlife without proper licenses.

The deputy chief said his team found  10 illegal snakes, mainly king cobras and boa constrictors, at the Chiang Mai Cobra Farm. He said an official who was sent in undercover to spy on the farm before the raid had reported that it housed over a hundred illegal snakes.

Farm owner Kamolthip Thamlee, 43, admitted that she did not have licences to keep the serpents. She said she bought the snakes from local farmers.

A further 32 snakes were seized from Mae Sa Snake Farm, including king cobras, boa constrictors, pythons and stripe-tailed racers.

The DNP also seized 20 other species of animal, including pig-tailed macaques, starlings, pheasants and Thai peacocks from the farm.

A total of 34 snakes were also seized from Mae Rim Snake Farm.

Mr Theeraphat said the raids are a part of the department's programme to ensure appropriate homes for elephants in Chiang Mai.

All the animals seized from these farms were illegally held under the Wildlife Protection Act 1992.

By law, farms are required to have licences to house protected animals.

Mr Theeraphat said the DNP will inspect all of the district’s nine snake farms and other animal shows to help preserve and discourage sales of endangered animals.

The DNP is most concerned about the trade in cobras. Mr Theeraphat said it is destroying the ecosystem.

“Cobras feed on other snakes, and farmers make extra money by catching other snakes and sell them to these farms”, he said. “The snakes are fed to the cobras, and used as bait in shows.”

The number of snakes in the wild has decreased drastically because of such practices, damaging the balance in the ecosystem, he said

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